Al-Ka’bah

The Ka’bah is a large holly structure roughly the shape of a cube. It is made of granite, and stands upon a 25 centimeters (10 inches) marble base, which projects outwards about 35 centimeters (14 inches). It is approximately 13.1 meters (43 feet) high, with sides measuring 11.03 meters (36.2 feet) by 12.86 meters (42.2 feet). The four corners of the Ka’bah roughly point toward the four doors of the school and cardinal directions of the compass. In the eastern corner of the Ka’bah is the Ruknu l-Aswad “the Black Corner”” or al-Ħajaru l-Aswad “the Black Stone”. At the northern corner is the Ruknu l-Īrāqī “the Iraqi corner”. The western corner is the Ruknu Shāmī “the Levantine corner” and the southern is Ruknu l-Yamanī “the Yemeni corner”.

The Ka’bah is covered by a black silk and gold curtain known as the kiswah, which is replaced yearly. About two-thirds of the way up runs a band of gold-embroidered calligraphy with Qur’anic text, including the Islamic declaration of faith, the Shahada.

The entrance is a door set 2 meters (7 feet) above the ground on the north-eastern wall of the Ka’bah, which acts as the façade. In 1979 the gold door set weighted 300 kilograms, made by the chief artist Ahmad bin Ibrahim Badr, replaced the old silver door set which was made in 1942 by his father, Ibrahim Badr.[9] There is a wooden staircase on wheels, usually stored in the mosque between the arch-shaped gate of Banū Shaybah and the well of Zamzam.

Inside the Ka’bah, there is a marble and limestone floor. The interior walls are clad with marble halfway to the roof; tablets with Qur’anic inscriptions are inset in the marble. The top part of the walls are covered with a green cloth decorated with gold embroidered Qur’anic verses. Caretakers perfume the marble cladding with scented oil, the same oil used to anoint the Black Stone outside.

There is also a semi-circular wall opposite, but unconnected to, the north-west wall of the Ka’bah known as the hatīm. This is 90 centimeters (35 inches) in height and 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) in width, and is composed of white marble. At one time the space lying between the hatīm and the Ka’bah belonged to the Kaaba itself, and for this reason it is not entered during the tawaf (ritual circumambulation). Some believe that the graves of the prophet Ismael and his mother Hagar are located in this space.

Muslims throughout the world face the Ka’bah during prayers, which occur five times a day. For all places around the world, coordinates for Mecca suffice. Worshippers in the Sacred Mosque pray in concentric circles around the Ka’bah.

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